While the Mets consider the virtues of Daniel Murphy as their starting first baseman in 2010, Mets fans continue to debate his pros and cons. Several other first base options are also being weighed in the balance including stop gaps like Aubrey Huff or Russell Branyan, and multi-year options like Adam La Roche, Jorge Cantu and Nick Johnson.
Mets prospect Ike Davis has the base excited, but most realize he may be a year or more away from being a legitimate option. Davis by the way was named to the Arizona Fall League’s Rising Stars Showcase, which is nice, but lets not get too carried away as he was one of two first baseman selected from a whopping six teams.
Several Arizona sources believe that Diamondback’s first baseman Conor Jackson, may be non-tendered after hauling in a $3.06 million dollar award for the 2009 season, a significant increase from the $425K he made in 2008. Even in a season that Jackson lost to a bad case of Valley Fever, it’s expected that he could still get another increase which is a big problem for the cash strapped D’Backs.
Jackson practically missed the entire season in 2009 and played in just 30 games after a huge breakout season in 2008 that saw him bat .300 with a .376 on-base percentage.
The former 2003 first round pick, lost almost 20 pounds due to his bout with the disease, but he has gained most of that weight back and is quickly getting back into baseball shape. He is off to a hot start at Escogido of the Dominican winter league, hitting .350 with a .518 OBP and a 1.043 OPS in 13 games. Aside from his impressive output thus far, is his 14 walks as compared to his 8 strikeouts. A small sample size for sure, but we’ve seen this before from Jackson in his career. He also has four stolen bases and no caught stealing. It’s safe to say that Jackson is healthy again and the best may be yet to come in 2010.
A few more things to note about his last full season in 2008 was Jackson’s 11.3 K% and his .321 BABIP. The 27 year old Jackson hit 12 homers that season and stroked 31 doubles.
When you compare Jackson’s 3.5 WAR that season against this years available first basemen: LaRoche 2.4, Cantu 1.6, Huff -1.2, Branyan 2.8 and Johnson 2.4, it’s easy to see how much more valuable Conor Jackson is, and remember he’s much younger than all of them too. By the way, Daniel Murphy’s WAR was a disappointing 0.6 last season.
When Jackson was originally drafted, he was projected to be an excellent contact hitter with moderate power and a great eye at the plate. He hasn’t disappointed, and he could be on the verge of a power spike as he enters his peak years.
If the rumors are true and Arizona non-tenders Conor Jackson, I’d be very interested if I were the Mets.